Knox Alumni Meet President Obama in Tanzania

Luke '08 and Samantha Claypool Temple '11 Serve in Peace Corps

July 05, 2013

Luke and Samantha Claypool with President Obama in Tanzania

Two Knox College alumni were among a group of 25 Peace Corps volunteers invited to meet with President Barack Obama when he stopped in Tanzania on July 2 as part of his visit to Africa.

Luke '08 and Samantha Claypool Temple '11 are serving in the Peace Corps as environmental extension workers and living in a small village in the Southern Highlands region of Tanzania. (Photo above: President Obama speaks in Tanzania on July 2. Inset photo: Luke and Samantha Claypool Temple at the event.)

"We were fortunate enough to be selected by Peace Corps staff to be two of the lucky 25," Samantha Claypool Temple said. "It was quite an honor!"

The Temples crossed paths with Obama at the U.S. Embassy in Dar es Salaam, where the president spoke to a crowd of about 300 invited guests, including Peace Corps volunteers and embassy employees. Afterward, he and former President George W. Bush laid a wreath at a monument honoring the people who died when the embassy was attacked in 1998.

"Obama gave about a 20-minute speech filled with lots of smiles, jokes and relaxed gestures," Samantha recalled. "It didn't look like his speech was written or prepared, more of just an off-the-cuff, informal speech directed towards thanking us for the work and service we do. It was a wonderful experience to be thanked by the President, in a crowd of other civil servants, for our service to Tanzania and America."

Luke and Samantha Claypool with President Obama in TanzaniaShe added: "His best line, in my opinion, came when he thanked all the Tanzanian citizens, who are all fellow U.S. government employees, for their work and commitment to helping us (all the Americans living and working in Tanzania) because honestly, without them, we would never survive!"

After the speech, Obama shook hands with some of the people in the crowd, including several of the Temples' Tanzanian counterparts from the Peace Corps office. According to Samantha, "the look on their faces after was priceless!"

(Photo at left: President Obama shakes hands after his speech at the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. Photo below: Luke and Samantha Claypool Temple with Peace Corps volunteers and others invited to meet President Obama.)

The Temples arrived in Tanzania last October and will serve for 27 months. While their main objective is to help train and organize villagers about sustainable agriculture and land management techniques and food security, they also assist villagers "with the needs specific to them."

"So to date, we have worked on organic compost and soil trainings, village chicken husbandry projects, and secondary school education in the areas of health and life skills," Samantha said. "As a side note, we live completely without electricity or running water and it really isn't all that bad."

They are describing their experiences in a blog, Temples in Tanzania: A Peace Corps Adventure.

"We feel strongly that the education we received at Knox gave us the foundation to pursue many options and paths, one being the Peace Corps," Samantha said. "We attribute our adaptability, our out-of-the-box thinking and our curiosity for the world to the many professors that helped us along the way, many [of whom] we still stay in contact with today."

Luke and Samantha Claypool with President Obama in Tanzania